Sunday, August 28, 2011

Blueberry Buddies and Lessons from the Land

Lia (from Skedaddle) and I packed up our boys this morning and made a trip to a favorite top secret blueberry location. Like hunting grounds, fishing holes and gold claims, favorite berry crops are kept between close friends in Alaska. The boys did all the hiking on their own. After the adventure, in both houses, pie became the fate of the wild grown alpine fruit. Out of ALL the blueberry recipes in my cookbook, The Joy of Blueberries: Natures Little Blue Powerhouse, pie always seems to win... well it ties with the blueberry coffee cake.

Some concepts that can be taught through berry picking and the requisite baking after:
  • Estimating - estimate how many berrys are in your container then count them.
  • Volume - pour berries from a smaller container into a larger one
  • Ecology - food chain, paying attention to where the berries are found on the mountain side - are they near streams? high in the rocky areas? low in the boggy areas? Is this habitat to other creatures?
  • Topography & Geography  - bring a compass or a gps device to record your coordinates, pay attention to the terrain and elevation gain as you hike.
  • Measurement & Fractions- baking
  • Democracy - let the students or members of your family vote on the fate of the berries... pies, smoothies, muffins etc...
  • History - in my family's case blueberries are an important part of our history, my great-grandmother owned a blueberry farm in New Hampshire, as did many other 1st generation Finnish Americans. Berry's are also a part of the subsistence culture of Alaska from it's Native peoples to the gold miners fighting off scurvy in the long winter months.
  • Literary connections - as I mention in an earlier post Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey is a favorite in our house. Blueberry Shoe, by Ann Dixon, a local author is another.
  • Nutrition - There are many benefits to eating berries - antioxidants and fiber are just the beginning.


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